For our last New Music Alert of the year, we’ve chosen five of the Christmas season’s best releases. We only stuck to one criterion this week: it must be a Christmas song, or else it won’t be covered. This means that new tracks by Cage the Elephant, Secrets and Coldplay have all missed out for once. Instead, read on to listen to 2015’s five best festive cuts.
THE KILLERS – DIRT SLEDDING (Stream here)
If there’s one band who are no strangers to releasing a track at Christmas, then it’s The Killers. Since 2005, Brandon Flowers and co. have supported the RED charity by putting out a song for the festive season. This year, the band have released the third track in their Santa Trilogy, Dirt Sledding. As always, Ryan Pardey plays the part of a disgruntled Santa, whilst Richard Dreyfuss also makes an appearance. The verses are borderline rockabilly, placing emphasis on Flowers’ delicate vocals, before the chorus sees everything explode. “Pretty girls, Christmas lights, mistletoe, holy nights” sings Flowers during the chorus, with the video seeing Santa attempt a reconciliation with his former enemies. Oh, it sure wouldn’t be Christmas without The Killers.
PALMA VIOLETS – LAST CHRISTMAS ON PLANET EARTH (Stream here)
This year, Lambeth-quartet Palma Violets have really put effort into their Christmas activities. For the whole of December, their website will display an advent calendar with different treats and surprises for fans. The first of the planned treats comes in the shape of a brand new track titled Last Christmas on Planet Earth, which is equal parts classic Christmas and classic Palma’s. Fuzzy guitars underpin the whole affair, with Pete Mayhew’s twinkly keys adding some genuine Christmas cheer in and amongst the melancholic lyrics. “Rudolph got shot down flying over Georgia” sings co-frontman Chilli Jesson, his vocal partner Sam Fryer joining him in sounding extremely emotive. Who knows, maybe Christmas has got another indie classic on its hands.
LOOSE TAPESTRIES – CAN’T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS FT. IDRIS ELBA (Stream here)
If you’re doing anything whilst reading this, then stop now. Loose Tapestries, the musical collaboration between comedian Noel Fielding and Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, have just outdone themselves by releasing the song of the festive season (or as they put it, “a gift to the nation”). As you’d expect, Can’t Wait for Christmas is absolutely bonkers and packed with the kind of stocking-filling surprises you’ve come to anticipate from Fielding. His creative paws are all over the lyrics (“a snowball fight with the local hard man” / “baby Judas putting on a show, pocket full of Haribo”), with Pizzorno’s oddball verses and jangly guitars giving the track a funk edge. Actor Idris Elba raps his way through a darker breakdown, speaking of boxer shorts and wanting a new Xbox. As the song comes to a children’s choir-led ending, you feel like there’s only one thing which you’re able to do, and that’s dance. “And all the children sing” declares Fielding, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do.
PHOENIX & BILL MURRAY – ALONE ON CHRISTMAS DAY (Stream here)
Up until last week, it’s likely that most people had never listened to Beach Boys rarity Alone on Christmas Day. That’s where French outfit Phoenix step in, having recently released a specially recorded version of the track together with actor Bill Murray. On the recording, which was released as part of a brand new Netflix special, Bill Murray starts off by asking Phoenix to play something “that nobody knows”. Over the course of the next three minutes, Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars sings of loneliness during festive days, with his vocals being underpinned by positive sounding piano lines and a progressive tambourine beat. During the chorus, Mars engages in a call-and-response section with Murray, their sense of unity reflecting on both the band and the listener. It’s a nice, easy going Christmas song which is likely to put a smile on many faces over the next two weeks.
AUGUST BURNS RED – HOME ALONE THEME (Stream here)
Our fifth and final selection comes courtesy of metalcore outfit August Burns Red, who have re-recorded the famous Home Alone Theme for this year’s Punk Goes Christmas collection. Joining the likes of All Time Low and Set it Off in recording Christmas covers, August Burns Red’s festive rendition encompasses swirling guitar lines, upbeat percussion and that ever so famous Home Alone theme tune. Roughly a minute and a half in, the drums slow down and make for a rather danceable beat section, before slowly speeding up and leading back in to circle pit territory. It’s not a conventional cover (there are no vocals), but it’s a certainly a nice alternative to your usual Christmas music.
We’ll be back in 2016 with a new edition of New Music Alert.